KwaMuhle Museum in eThekwini

In the Native Affairs Building in Durban (eThekwini) is a museum that is dedicated to the documentation of the long fight to abolish apartheid, as well as the cultures that are now working together in the twenty-first century to ensure a promising future for South Africa. The building in which it is housed has its own unique history in regard to apartheid, making it a fitting location for the museum.

The Native Affairs Building used to house the Department of Native Affairs, built in 1928. This government authority was a hated establishment during apartheid, as it was charged with the enforcing of the rules and regulations of the apartheid law. In a turn of events, the building is now the protector of history and an educator of the public looking towards a better future.

The KwaMuhle Museum takes visitors on a journey through all the cultures that carve their living in Durban, and that have contributed in their own unique ways to the vibrant atmosphere that makes Durban such a popular destination in South Africa. The entrance to the building greets visitors with striking images of the apartheid era and shows how each culture fought against the regulations enforced by the Department of Native Affairs. The museum is extremely candid and honest about the past of Durban, and of South Africa, also putting the new democracy into context and assisting the visitor to look at the country’s past, present state and also at the potential the country has for its future.

Oddly enough the name of the museum is derived from a nickname given to the Department of Native Administration’s first manager, showing that all who were involved in ensuring the government’s rules were followed did not always agree with what they had to do. His name was J.S. Marwick, and was nicknamed uMuhle, which means The Good One. He assisted seven thousand Zulus who were forgotten about and would have been caught up in the heat of the Anglo-Boer War had Marwick not stepped in and relocated them to safety. Even after he left the department he was remembered, and the museum’s name therefore means Place of the Good One. The KwaMuhle Museum not only calls to mind past mistakes and injustices, but praises the work of those who tried to bring justice to the country, and continue to contribute positively to the city, ensuring a bright future for all.